It's worrying that toilet paper was invented in 600AD during the Sui Dynasty of China. The Sui-D shone for a very brief moment in the long history the Middle Kingdom, a few short decades. But they never delivered on the promise of that early toiletry coup. Possibly the reign collapsed because the Emperor was known behind his back as 'Wendy', which did not spread an exemplary terror amongst the provinces. Or more likely the Sui fell because having invented dunny paper they forgot to invent the flush toilet – 1596, Sir John Harrington, but I'm sure you already knew that – and soon found themselves buried under mountains of wonder soft but unflushed double ply.
How do I know this? Because the Internet told me. While I was on the toilet. Specifically, while I was having a very meta-moment on the toilet reading an email from my editor, with a link to Slate which was reporting some very important research into social media and toilet habits.
Bottom (ahem) line?
While I've composed more than one entry for the Instrument perched over Sir Thomas Crapper's porcelain water chair – God bless the tablet age – it appears that most of you have been commenting on them, and linking to them, from your own commodious surrounds, with fully one third of respondents to the Nielsen company's survey confirming they like to shoot off an update on Twitter or Facebook while squeezing out a download on the thunderbox.
Now, this, er, movement, could be seen as just another nail in the coffin of old media, which has lost its grip on one of the last bastions of the magazine and newspaper industry, but I think it opens up new vistas for monetizing an otherwise sedentary and unproductive five minutes.
Expect to see many more banner ads for Kleenex and Softly here, along with an increase in efficiency, as all news and comment items are reduced to something Jeff Goldblum described in The Big Chill as being no longer than the average person can read in the time it takes to do the average crap.
Expect as well that having now been provided with this vital market intelligence, the major soc-media players will quickly move to exploit it. Facebook's latest 'privacy' update will probably allow the social network to ping you every time anyone you ever went to school with drops pants anywhere within phone camera range. Google Plus has a chance to radically redesign its hangout feature to finally capture the chummy vibe of a popular male urinal that's been missing from the sad, deserted toilet block of its virtual environment. And Twitter of course will finally give millions of Justin Bieber's followers a chance to really sit down and share something special with him.
The little boy's room is stocked with a liberal supply of Mad Magazines and old Playboys at JB's personal blog, CheeseburgerGothic.com.